Behind an investigation into Latino COVID deaths

In the summer of 2020, Ana Arana was examining COVID-19 death statistics in different cities across the country when she spotted something that concerned her. The veteran investigative journalist looked at her home state of California and noticed that, in some heavily-Latino counties in the Bay Area, deceased people with Latino names were not identified as Latino.

“They were identified as ‘white,’ ‘other,’ or ‘Black,’” Arana recalled. “And in some cases, the nationality was kind of the ethnicity … saying ‘I’m Honduran’ or ‘Mexican,’ rather than saying, ‘I’m Latino.’”

Arana, a Salvadoran American journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent in Latin America and Africa, decided to look deeper and learned something that medical and health experts have known for a long time: “Deaths are counted in this country, but sometimes the system is complicated and people are misidentified along the process,” she said.

Instinct told Arana that public health consequences were at stake for the Latino community because health allocations from federal and local governments are based on […]


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